APNewsBreak: FDA warns Iowa egg firm over bacteria

Sep 9, 2012, 5:42 PM

Associated Press

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – A company that promised to clean up Iowa’s egg industry after a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2010 said Friday that a recent government safety inspection discovered the bacteria in two of its barns and that it took steps to protect consumers.

Centrum Valley Farms said in a statement issued to The Associated Press that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the strain of bacteria known as salmonella heidelberg in two of six poultry houses that were tested at its production facility in Clarion, Iowa, during a routine inspection in May. The company said the presence of the bacteria in the barns did not mean any eggs were tainted, but that it nonetheless diverted an unspecified number from the market “in the interest of egg safety.”

The company said the eggs were withheld until they tested negative for the bacteria four times and were eventually approved for sale by the FDA.

The plant is under strict oversight because it was one of several in northern Iowa implicated in the 2010 outbreak, which led to the recall of more than 500 million eggs nationwide and sickened an estimated 2,000 customers. During the outbreak, the plant was owned and controlled by Jack DeCoster, an egg magnate with a long history of food safety, labor and environmental violations. Centrum Valley Farms took over management of DeCoster’s operations in Iowa last year, vowing to improve them.

In an Aug. 14 warning letter, the FDA said it was concerned about the presence of salmonella heidelberg or SH in Centrum Valley Farm’s poultry houses, warning it could enter chickens’ organs and end up in their eggs.

“SH has caused several egg-associated outbreaks resulting in human illness and at times death. Given this body of evidence, FDA considers SH within a poultry house environment to be a public health threat,” according to the letter from John Thorsky, director of FDA’s Kansas City regional office. “We acknowledge that you have been working with FDA to address this situation.”

Chief Operating Officer Steve Boomsma said in the statement that Centrum Valley was in the process of responding to FDA’s findings, which also included several deficiencies in its testing for salmonella and its salmonella prevention plan.

“Providing safe, high-quality eggs to Centrum Valley Farms customers is our obligation,” he said. “We have already taken corrective actions.”

Salmonella is the most common bacterial form of food poisoning, causing diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever within days of eating a contaminated product. It can be life-threatening. Salmonella heidelberg is a different strain than the more common salmonella enteritidis blamed for the 2010 outbreak. Federal investigators found the presence of both strains on DeCoster’s farms after the outbreak.

In its letter, FDA noted that Centrum Valley had promised several improvements, and that its inspectors would be looking for verification of them during their next visit.

Iowa is by far the nation’s leading egg producer, with more than 50 million egg-laying hens that produce about 14 billion eggs per year.

Centrum Valley hailed its takeover of DeCoster’s operations as a step toward repairing consumer confidence after the outbreak. It vowed to bring in new management teams to improve egg safety and compliance with environmental, animal care and disease prevention programs.

Centrum Valley says its eggs are sold at major retailers across the country under a variety of brand names, but it would not identify its customers. On its website, the company says that its “environmental testing and compliance procedures are over and above” those required by the FDA.

But the FDA said otherwise in its warning, which found “serious violations” of rules that went into effect in 2010 to prevent salmonella in the production, storage and transportation of shell eggs. The rules require mandatory testing for the bacteria at different stages of production. Companies that find salmonella in their poultry houses must either conduct additional testing over several weeks and destroy the bacteria or divert the eggs to non-food use.

The FDA said Centrum Valley was failing to test for salmonella in the environment when hens were 14 to 16 weeks of age and 40 to 45 weeks of age as often as required, and that its contract technician was not collecting enough samples for testing. Centrum Valley also failed to maintain records showing compliance with refrigeration requirements for eggs and had a salmonella prevention plan that was incomplete, the letter said.

The FDA said the violations rendered the eggs adulterated because they “have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth.”

The letter gave Centrum Valley 15 working days to issue a response outlining “specific things you have done or plan to do to correct these violations and prevent their recurrence.” The response has not yet been filed.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Reports: 1 dead, 17 hurt in crash outside Pennsylvania bar

BERWICK, Pa. (AP) — One person has died and another 17 people were injured after a vehicle struck a crowd gathered at a Pennsylvania bar on Saturday for an event to raise money for victims of a house fire that killed 10 earlier this month, authorities said. WNEP-TV said the crash occurred outside the Intoxicology […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History: August 14, McVeigh sentenced to death

Today in History Today is Sunday, Aug. 14, the 226th day of 2022. There are 139 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Aug. 14, 1945, President Harry S. Truman announced that Imperial Japan had surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II. On this date: In 1848, the Oregon Territory was created. In […]
1 day ago
FILE - People spend time at the park at dusk during a summer heat wave, July 21, 2022, in Hoboken, ...
Associated Press

Hot nights: US in July sets new record for overnight warmth

The continental United States in July set a record for overnight warmth, providing little relief from the day's heat meteorologists said.
1 day ago
FILE - Anne Heche arrives at the 74th annual Directors Guild of America Awards on March 12, 2022, i...
Associated Press

LAPD ends investigation into Anne Heche car crash

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Police Department has ended its investigation into Anne Heche’s car accident, when the actor crashed into a Los Angeles home on Aug. 5. Heche, 53, is brain dead and on life support, pending evaluation for organ donation. “As of today, there will be no further investigative efforts made […]
1 day ago
Republican Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt, right, takes pictures with supporters at the sevent...
Associated Press

GOP candidates stress urgency at annual Nevada cookout

GARDNERVILLE, Nev. (AP) — Standing in front of 1,500 Republicans at a rural ranch backdropped by the Sierra Nevada mountains, Nevada’s Republican governor candidate Joe Lombardo referenced the “elephant in the room” without naming him. The second-place finisher in the gubernatorial primary, Reno attorney Joey Gilbert, has baselessly claimed the mathematical counting was off and […]
1 day ago
This image from video released by Snowbasin Resort shows their web cam capture of a meteor flying o...
Associated Press

Officials: Loud ‘boom’ heard in north Utah likely a meteor

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A loud “boom” heard across areas of northern Utah was likely a meteor, officials said Saturday. Reports of the loud noise circulated at about 8:30 a.m., with people from Orem to southern Idaho posting that they heard the “boom,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Utah Gov. Spencer Cox tweeted that […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
CANVAS ANNUITY

Best retirement savings rates hit 4.30%

Maximize your retirement savings with guaranteed fixed rates up to 4.30%. Did you know there is a financial product that can give you great interest rates as you build your retirement savings and provide you with a paycheck for life once you retire? It might sound too good to be true but it is not; this product is called an annuity.
APNewsBreak: FDA warns Iowa egg firm over bacteria